How I Employed The Growth Mindset To Transform My Students
We are living in the digital age, where we are not only using a phone to connect to the world but also have access to abundant information at our fingertips. Kudos to technology for this achievement!
However, the technological infusion into our daily lives is so overwhelming that, though we all are well-connected through the vast social networking platforms, the extensive usage of the digital screens has built a great wall of physical and emotional ‘’human disconnect’’.
As a result of the human disconnect, the misunderstanding of abilities and communication gaps between the adults and children are on the rise. Moreover, it is a common fact that, in order to meet the demands of a better future, the parental expectations of the current generation are constantly conditioning the younger generation in such a way that it is affecting their learning styles and depriving them of free thinking.
Depriving the freedom induces negative qualities like fear, aggression, control, and authority in the young minds. Additionally, most of the times, children are also engrossed in conventional and monotonous learning methods from early childhood, which significantly influences their creativity and intelligence levels.
APPROACH TO THE SOLUTION
To break the monotony, eminent thinkers and world’s psychology research leaders like Carl.R.Rogers, Jerome Friedberg, and Peter Gray, have introduced the concept of “Freedom to learn”.
According to the principles of “Freedom to learn”, unlike the usual parenting, children should be taught to make the decisions and held responsible for their own actions. This allows them to express and experiment with their thoughts and actions, without any parental restrictions. It promotes the children, to learn and grow on their own, to think differently and to create the values.
Let the children dwell in the problem zone rather than the comfort zone.
Instead of guiding and instructing them at every stage of their development, pose questions to them. Encourage the children to reason things around. While carrying out extensive research on the human mindsets, Dr.Carol Dweck, a world-renowned author and psychology expert, has discovered 2 types of human mindsets – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
1. Fixed Mindset
Dr.Carol Dweck, says that a fixed mindset is a belief that is detrimental to the developmental, creative and thinking abilities of the children. It is essentially triggered when the children face challenges, setbacks, and criticism. The children with a fixed mindset may exhibit few or all of the following traits:
→ Refraining from working hard/ feeling anxious to stay dedicated to the task.
“I can’t do it/I quit!”
“I don’t want to work hard as it is painful”
→ Difficulty in accepting the challenges and struggles.
“I am intelligent enough so I don’t have to practice”
→ Doomed by the setbacks/ unwilling to approach the task.
“Today, I don’t want to go to school because the weather is gloomy.”
“I will not learn my lessons as I am sick.”
→ Declining the feedback from others.
“I don’t need your feedback, I am smart.”
→ Not working to improve and not rectifying the mistakes.
Starts to find an easy escape for not doing the task by building some imaginary excuses/not focusing on the task and procrastinating it by indulging in some other task.
→ Feeling emotionally low – humiliated/rejected/guilty/disappointed/feeling stupid.
“My teacher doesn’t talk to me. I feel she doesn’t like me because I didn’t perform well this year.”
“I am feeling very bad. I failed in exams, despite all the hard work. I give up!”
→ Feeling resentful and behave aggressively by the performance or achievements of others.
“I hate him because he performs better than me”
If the children exhibit any of the aforesaid traits, then it is evident that they are limiting their intelligence and resisting a positive change. They believe that they are not capable enough to achieve results, they fear the mistakes and thus, they find it difficult to adapt to the circumstantial uncertainties.
2. Growth Mindset
According to Ms. Dweck, Children with a growth mindset, are curious to try and learn, all that comes their way. They love to spend their time and efforts when they are intrigued by the challenges and mistakes. They learn through creativity and activity-based methods rather than through mere consumption of external information in the school sessions.
The growth mindset is exactly opposite to the fixed mindset, where children see the failures and setbacks as an opportunity to develop the skills. The children with the growth mindset, accept the challenges, they learn from the mistakes and feedback from others. Criticism doesn’t hurt their feelings, instead fuels their learning. They quickly adapt to their circumstantial uncertainties and experience their potential and success early in their lives.
WAYS TO EMPLOY THE GROWTH MINDSET IN THE CHILDREN
To get rid of the fixed mindset, it is important to identify the triggering point – Are they challenges , setbacks or criticism? – that is holding the children from performing well. There are numerous ways that can be followed, accordingly, to cultivate and achieve the growth mindset in the children.
#1 – PRIORITIZE AND ANALYZE THE TASKS:
It is a known fact that the children deal with multiple tasks in their daily life. Most of the times, each of these tasks is associated with the expected date/time of completion. These tasks could be — finishing a project and taking down the class notes within the given time; home-based assignments; the exam preparation tasks; any extra-curricular classes (sports/music); any activity in their daily routine, outside the school hours etc.
To employ the growth mindset, while approaching these multiple tasks on a day-to-day basis, the adults/educators can help the children to:
- Firstly list down all the tasks that need to be done. This helps the children to focus on one task at a time.
- Analyze the listed task and know how easy/difficult each task is.
- Prioritize the task, based on its level of urgency or the timeline of completion.
“Is the task so important that it needs immediate attention or should I postpone it for a later time?”
Following this simple act of prioritizing the tasks, regularly, the children develop skills such as:
→ Willingness to approach the tasks without anxiety.
Organizing a list of tasks well, plan the tasks accordingly to finish them within a given time, without any delay
→ Address the challenges or setbacks.
Learn to self-analyze the task and measure the time that they could dedicate to address the challenge.
→ Appreciate the feedback/criticism.
Collaborate with peers and communicate with others, seeking for the advice or help without feeling emotionally low or being envious.
→ Work hard and accept to struggle.
Learn about the multitasking and managing the time without procrastination.
They don’t quit if stuck in a difficult task, instead, they struggle to solve it like divide the difficult task into numerous sub-tasks, prioritize them and set an action plan for each sub-task and keep progressing with the sub-tasks to finish the main task.
#2 – KNOW THE PURPOSE OF DOING A TASK
Adults (parents/teachers) should help the children to identify and realize the purpose of the task. Knowing the purpose sets, in them, the clarity with respect to know-why’s and know-how’s part of any given task.
This is done using the “Why before What” approach. This is the approach, where, the children are often posed with the fundamental questions relevant to the task. It nurtures their observational skills, data interpretation skills, logical and reasoning abilities. This helps them, not only to develop an interest in the task but also they learn new things from their environment.
If they are well aware of the purpose of doing a specific task, then they become less-anxious and more involved in the task. Their perspective towards learning changes positively as they start showing the willingness and the dedication towards the task, without any complaints.
Author instruction: https://youtu.be/rj6JvnTRQxQ
Video Credits: Peppa Pig Official
“Ask why” to the children until they start to “Ask why”
#3 – MOTIVATE CHILDREN OFTEN:
Motivating children plays a pivotal role to alleviate the fixed mindset in the children. This deals with their behavioral aspects. In order to build a growth mindset in the students, the parents/teachers should:
- Not use any negative connotations that are discouraging the children in any manner.
- Often, say to them that it is absolutely common to go wrong or make mistakes.
- Appreciate them if they have attempted the task promptly.
- Reward the children who are trying hard to complete the task, despite all the struggles.
- Give a gentle push by cueing them the know-how of the task or the underlying concepts, if they get stuck at some point .
- Use a relevant real-world example; draw influence from the surrounding environment or engage them in activities that help them to improve on the given task.
- Repetition is the best way to get the fickle mind on track.
- Let the children take part in educational events; watch a few relevant videos that are either task related or any sort of inspiring and motivational speeches and stories
“Use a positive tone to motivate the children all the time to cultivate the growth mindset in them.”
#4 – PRACTICE, GOAL SETTING AND GOAL ACHIEVEMENT:
Once the motivation levels are set in children, then it is time for them to act on the task. The growth mindset is developed when the children are involved in the whole process of learning, instead of focusing on the results, test scores, talents or performance. It is about sticking to the schedule, practicing every day and working through the tasks according to the plan.
The parents/teachers should help the children to set a goal and achieve it. The children should follow all the necessary action steps to achieve the goal, which includes the following:
- Stay dedicated, work hard, accept the struggle and figure out the different strategies to approach the task
- If gone wrong, or stuck at a point, think over the task and do not give up.
- Reason the task, apply the learned concepts and approach logically to solve the given task.
- Practice similar tasks every day.
- To become better at the skills, develop or upgrade any new skills and acquire all the necessary knowledge by taking up relevant training/courses if required .
- Complete the task and achieve the goal within the time
- To know your proficiency levels and improve further on the skill, evaluate the ideas, review the task often, measure your progress through assessments such as a quiz or verbal explanation or written test.
Practice is yet another important element at this stage. It focuses on the continuous learning process rather than the end results. Initially, the student would find it extremely difficult to handle the goal. However, practicing the task every day is the key. It can be done using different learning methods, like interactive mobile app-based activities, learning by doing activities, watching videos, solving concept based questions, taking up online quiz, revising the concepts often etc.
“The more the effective practice, the more the task seems to be interesting and worth learning.”
#5 – BUILD MENTAL MODELS:
Building mental models, of a task, help the children to visualize the outcomes. The visual learning aids their verbal learning and helps them to sense the logical flow of the task, at a concrete level. In the process of trying to visualize the task, they not only acquaint the actual working logic of the task but also develop the emotional attachment towards their perceptions.
If children are successful at attempting/solving the problem, then they feel happy about the task accomplishment. They develop a positive vibe and realize that problem solving is not a difficult task at all. This attitude strengthens their thinking ability and memorizing capacity. Eventually, they develop sheer confidence to approach and solve the problems independently.
“The brain establishes long term memory when it combines information learning with emotional attachments” – Jim Kwik, founder of Kwik Learning – world’s leading expert in brain coaching.
#6 – RELATIONSHIPS AND COLLABORATION:
Communication is the key to build relationships. More the time parents spend with children, the more successful their children will be in academics. The digital screens are interfering the actual physical bonding, which is impacting the overall development of the children. It induces, in them, aggression, fear, loneliness, unhappiness and a fixed mindset.
Therefore, build a growth mindset forming better, stronger and emotionally attached relationships through social connections. Sit and talk to children often; share the experiences, happiness, and miseries. Exchange ideas and visit places to learn about diversity in human culture. Collaborate with friends, families, and society. Parents/teachers should teach kids to speak out and raise voices for the future.
“Happiness fuels productivity.”
#7 – HEALTH AND HABITS:
Health and habits are the most important of all the aforementioned steps. The growth of mind is equally important as the physical growth of children. The adults should inculcate good moral and ethical values in them, which allows them to differentiate between the right and the wrong.
On a similar note, healthy eating is essential for the children to not only stay focused on achieving the goal but also relieve the child from worldly stress and mental tension.
“Live a healthy and moral lifestyle.”
Ultimately, the growth mindset is a catalytic element that adds new dimensions to the thoughts, perspectives, and experiences of young minds. Following all the aforementioned ways, helps the children to develop the growth mindset and attain a positive transformation. They break away the cocoon of the technologically-bound world and grab a world of opportunities to emerge as a beautiful and colorful butterfly.